FBI Opens Official News Corp. Investigation

The recently announced Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probe of News Corp. has kicked off. According to the Wall Street Journal, the FBI reached out to its Office for Victim Assistance and New York police (NYPD) to determine if any News Corp. staff attempted to<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/news-corp-world-trade-center-9-11-victim-hacking-scandal"> hack the phones of September 11th World Trade Center attack victims.

Accusations followed a report by the U.K.’s Daily Mirror about an NYPD police officer who alleged he was offered money by a reporter from News Corp.’s now-defunct News of the World, a U.K. tabloid, in exchange for the personal phone information of 9/11 victims.

NYPD spokesman, Paul Browne, told the Journal that it had initially looked into the matter following early hacking reports and acknowledged the FBI contact, but said the NYPD does not have anything of note to report. Likewise, no one has contacted the FBI Office for Victim Assistance regarding News Corp. hacking.

Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, told the Journal that, “The Attorney General has met with 9/11 family members on a number of occasions and would welcome the opportunity to meet with them to discuss any concerns they would like to bring to the Department’s attention.”

Early work is expected to take months, and U.S. and U.K investigators will meet to discuss the matter, said the Journal. Meanwhile, Reuters is reporting that relatives of 9/11 victims requested a meeting with the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department to talk about the early inquiry into News Corp.

Meanwhile, at Parliamentary hearings into the matter, Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp., told the panel that executives at the firm are not aware of any hacking into 9/11 victims’ phones. “We have seen no evidence of that at all and as far as we know the FBI haven’t either,” said Mr. Murdoch, reported the Journal. “I cannot believe it happened anywhere in America,” he added in his testimony before the House of Commons’ Culture, Media, and Sport Committee. While passing blame to others—the founder’s unnamed subordinates—Murdoch said they “behaved dreadfully” and “it’s for them to pay … I feel that people I trusted—I’m not saying who and I don’t know what level—have let me down,” Murdoch added.

Murdoch’s son and Rebekah Brooks, the former CEO of News Corp.’s U.K newspaper’s arm who resigned Friday and was arrested and released Sunday, were also questioned.

Since news of the scandal broke, <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/News-Corp-Shareholder-Investor-Lawsuit-Lawyer">News Corp. shareholders have filed suit alleging the scandal, along with some recent business decision, have negatively impacted shareholder concerns, said Media Matters. The lawsuit claims, in part that, “News Corp executives are … grossly overpaid, ensuring their loyalty to Murdoch and his personal initiatives” … Murdoch is “larding the executive ranks of the Company with his offspring,” the complaint states, according to a Media Matters report. The lawsuit also alleges that at least two editors-in-chief knew of and agreed to hacking activities that would bring in stories, said Media Matters.

The News Corp. hacking scandal has involved a number of arrests, resignations, an apparent six years of cover-up, and the unexplained death of an early whistleblower. MSNBC previously estimated that about 4,000 phones are involved in the global hacking scandal.

The scandal made news outside the U.K. when it was learned that News of the World hacked the voicemail of 13-year-old murder victim, Milly Dowler. Reporters for the tabloid deleted messages on Milly’s phone to make room for more messages. The nefarious hack gave her grieving family false hope that Milly was still alive. In reality, the girl was already dead, and her body would be discovered months later.

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